Governor Daugaard has signed HB 1041 which appropriates $7.2 million to the Railroad Trust Fund. The bill originally appropriated $1.2 million to be used for rehabilitation of the railroad bridge at Chamberlain on the state-owned line. It was then amended to add an additional $6 million with the intent to rehabilitate the line further west.
The SD Wheat Growers testified that they would build a $40 million shuttle loader facility and agronomy center if the railroad is rehabilitated at least as far as Lyman. As a result of the appropriation, the SD Railroad Board has committed $14 million towards application for a Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant in the amount of about $28 million. This amount would allow for the rehabilitation of the railroad all the way to Presho.
The last TIGER grant application was unsuccessful, however, the new appropriation will enable the State to exceed a 50% local match which will improve the chance of obtaining the grant this time. “This is a remarkable opportunity for South Dakota,” said Steve Halverson, President of the Rails to the Future, “We commend Governor Daugaard for his vision and leadership in regard to supporting railroad infrastructure in South Dakota.” “
In order to increase the State’s chance of obtaining the new TIGER grant, we need businesses, farmers and other interested parties to send letters of support to the SD DOT by April 15 so they can be included in the grant application,” said Halverson, “The letters should explain the economic development opportunities and benefit that the railroad rehabilitation would create.”
In addition to sending letters of support, it would be even more helpful, if the letter included a pledge of financial support,” said Halverson. “The pledge would only need to be paid if the grant application is successful and the railroad is built.”
Rails to the Future is a grassroots organization that is helping raise money for the railroad rehabilitation. “We have had numerous farmers throughout the region pledge thousands of dollars to this project,” said Halverson. “At our last meeting in Presho, we even had a women who has farmed for 60 years make a $10,000 pledge.”
Letters should be mailed to Bruce Lindholm, Program Manager, South Dakota Department of Transportation, Becker-Hansen Building, 700 E. Broadway Ave., Pierre, SD 57501